Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Movie Review: Iron Sky (2012)

Any movie where we can cheer at plucky heroes with more balls than brains taking on Nazi stooges is a good movie in my book. When those Nazi stooges are invading Earth from the Moon, that's when you're stepping into a whole new world of weird. Iron Sky is a Finnish-German-Austrian collaborative project made as a "sci-fi comedy" about a secret Nazi moon base colonized in the last days of World War Two. Being the industrious little fellows that they are, the Nazis have constructed a massive base, developed flying saucers and other technologies, and constructed the Götterdämmerung, "the largest engine of war ever built", a mammoth, Independence-Day alien mothership-sized flying saucer with cannons so powerful they can literally blow a hole in the moon.

The movie is set in 2018, and in an attempt to win support for her reelection, the President of the United States (clearly a Sarah Palin clone) sends a black male model to the moon with another astronaut as a publicity stunt. The two space-farers stumble across the Nazi moon base on the dark side of the moon while one of them is unobtrusively looking for something referred to as "Helium-3".

The Nazis capture James Washington (the model) and discover that his cell phone is more powerful than the computing power of their entire base - the Nazi technology is capable, but clearly relies on computing size, rather than computing power - banks of blinking "computer lights" that fill entire rooms, so on and so forth. I actually dug the aesthetic they went with - it isn't necessarily original, if you're familiar with WW2 "Weird" or Sci-Fi of the 30's and 40's, but it still looked good. The Nazis realized that if they had a few of the "telephone computers" they could harness their computing power (somehow...?) and use it to make the Götterdämmerung fly - their current technology was able to build it, but not good enough to get it airborne and operational.

Unfortunately, while the Nazis can figure out how to use the computing power of a cell phone to launch a gigantic flying saucer, they apparently can't figure out how to charge its battery. Klaus Richter, one of the Nazi officers, volunteers to go back to Earth and acquire more of this advanced technology, then bring it back for them to use. There are some humorous moments where Richter has a fling with Vivian Wagner, the President's publicist, who sees the snappy-dressing Nazi and his "Earth Specialist" fiance and begins to use carefully edited snippets of their Nazi rhetoric as the President's new political platform. This is definitely where the film goes off the rails a little, but it still elicits a laugh or two.

Overall, Iron Sky is a sci-fi comedy with a few eye-rolling moments, a lot of chuckles, and some amusing "in jokes", referencing other science fiction films, WW2 history, all mixed with a healthy (or maybe not quite healthy) dose of biting political commentary. Nevertheless, while it's understandable why in the highly competitive theatrical release market this never made it onto the big screen, I still think it comes in - both technically and artistically - a solid cut above your average direct-to-DVD sci-fi movie / SyFy premiere movie.

Here's the YouTube trailer for the film. Even if you don't check out the movie (available on Netflix and Amazon Instant Streaming), check out the trailer:


PeteN said...

When I first saw the trailer for this movie, the first thing I thought of was a poor rip-off of "Rocket Ship Galileo," which is still one of my favorite Heinlein novels.

Dan Eldredge said...

Helium-3, along with deuterium, is the primary fuel for fusion reactors. As such it it a sci-fi staple. It is also supposed to be abundant on the moon so it looks like they got that part right.

Jack Badelaire said...

I believe I'd heard of H-3 in some context before, so I knew it wasn't some imaginary compound, but wasn't sure if it was being used in a realistic context.